YouTube cuts off targeted kids ads in global overhaul

youtubeBrand owners will no longer be able to run targeted ads on YouTube kids’ videos – and the comments section will also be disabled – as part of a $170m settlement with US authorities over alleged violations of children’s privacy laws.

Although the settlement over potential breaches of the US Online Privacy Protection Act (Coppa) only applies in the States, the Google-owned company is implementing the changes globally and concedes it will have “a significant business impact” due to reduced ad revenue.

Anyone watching a video that has been designated as made for children will now be seen as a viewer under the age of 13 years old, regardless of how old the user actually is.

In a blogpost, YouTube said: “We will stop serving personalised ads on content that is made for kids, whether designated by you [content creators] or by our classifier. In accordance with Coppa, ads that are targeted to users based on their past usage of Google products and services to child audiences is not permissible.

“We will continue to serve non-personalised ads [ads that are shown based on context rather than on user data] on content that is made for kids.

“The ability to comment will no longer be available. Likes/dislikes and subscriptions on this content will not show up on public lists. Overall, viewers will have minimum engagement options with ‘made for kids’ content on YouTube.”

However, YouTube’s lack of guidance over what constitutes children’s content has raised concerns among some. Toy channels, for example, are likely to be hit hard as they have large adult audiences due to the huge numbers of collectors which watch them.

Dan Eardley, the founder of collectibles site Pixel Dan, recently told The Verge: “Creators are being held directly responsible by the FTC. So if the FTC decides that [we] are indeed targeting children, we’ll be fined. That is frightening. It’s especially scary because the verbiage of ‘kid directed’ vs ‘kid attractive’ isn’t very clear. It’s hard to know if we’re in violation or not.”

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